Grading Obama

So, was Barack Obama's much discussed debate answer naive? Did he not mean what he said? Or did he say exactly what he meant? Charles Krauthammer and E.J. Dionne have very different takes. More here (with back-story) and here (with video of yesterday's Obama and Clinton barbs) and here.

Albright + Cheney = Hillary?

From Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman:

"There you have it. A Hillary Clinton presidency promises to unite Madeleine Albright's zeal for using bombs in pursuit of liberal ideals with Dick Cheney's vision of the president as emperor. Won't that be fun?"

Credit where credit's due

This post over at Blue Hampshire gives Joe Biden a lot of credit for his showing at the YouTube debate. The author is not a Biden supporter.

What goes on in (Mitt's) mind

A Velvet Underground fan deconstructs the latest Mitt Romney ad here.

Easy to digest

The questions from last night's Democratic debate are broken into separate YouTube clips here, making it easy to watch only those parts you're interested in.

UPDATE: Here is the full transcript.

Re: Justice Obama?

Following up on his who-would-a-Democrat-pick speculation about the Supreme Court, Scotusblog's Tom Goldstein has added a list of potential Republican nominees. If he gets only one guess, it's Judge Consuelo Callahan for Justice John Paul Stevens. Goldstein, who in his earlier post, predicted that New Hampshire's David Souter would be the first justice to retire during a Democratic administration (ahead of the much older Stevens), guesses that Souter might stick it out in a Republican administration -- but might be inclined to retire, say, if Rudy Giuliani is the president and the Democrats control the Senate. For what it's worth, a Giuliani nominee might come from this list.

'Do what is necessary'

"The nation was far better off when the New Hampshire primary occurred deeper into the winter and other states followed over the next few months."

- The Boston Globe editorial board.

The paper goes on to say: "New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner recently told a Globe reporter that he has 'a few options' to preserve his state's position, but declined to elaborate on them. He should do what is necessary to stay out front."

New Hampshire voters agree.

Re: New poll

Let's start dribbling out results from the latest Monitor poll, conducted by Research 2000.

If Secretary of State Bill Gardner decides he needs to schedule the state's presidential primary in 2007 instead of 2008, New Hampshire voters are strongly behind him. Among the 600 likely voters interviewed this week, 77 percent said they would approve of moving up the primary to keep it first in the nation. Only 18 percent said they would not approve. The splits were not dependent on party identification.

UPDATE: Asked to rate President Bush's job performance, 1 percent of New Hampshire voters chose "excellent," 27 percent chose "good," 55 percent chose "fair" and 16 percent chose "poor." Here's how the numbers have looked over time:

  • 10/2002 -- 21% excellent, 53% good
  • 10/2003 -- 8% excellent, 47% good
  • 11/2005 -- 5% excellent, 34% good
  • 11/2006 -- 4% excellent, 32% good
  • 7/2007 -- 1% excellent, 27% good

The voters surveyed were more favorable in their assessment of the jobs being done by others serving them:

  • Gov. John Lynch -- 19% excellent, 43% good
  • U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg -- 12% excellent, 39% good
  • U.S. Sen. John Sununu -- 8% excellent, 34% good
  • N.H. Legislature -- 6% excellent, 32% good
  • U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes -- 9% excellent, 32% good
  • U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter -- 7% excellent, 28% good

The last two (each with 34% saying they're unsure) are based on surveys of 300 likely voters in the relevant congressional district, and the margin of error is plus or minus 6 percentage points. For the statewide portions of the poll, the margin of error is 4 percentage points.

More results to come in the Monitor Saturday and Sunday.

Justice Obama?

Could Barack Obama wind up on the Supreme Court if he doesn't end up in the White House? Well, he's one of 30 potential nominees of a Democratic president on a list compiled by Tom Goldstein at ScotusBlog. (Tom promises a forthcoming list for a Republican president as well.)

Obama is not, ultimately, Tom's best guess. (He doesn't give away whether that's because he thinks Obama will be making the pick.) Forcing himself to make one super-speculative prediction, Tom guesses a Democratic president's first nominee would be Judge Kim Wardlaw -- to replace New Hampshire's David Souter! (He guesses the much older John Paul Stevens will retire second.)

Regular readers of Scotusblog will recall that Tom correctly predicted the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito -- and, on the morning of Harriet Miers's nomination, predicted that she would not make it to the court.

New poll

The Monitor will publish the results of a new presidential primary poll this week. has summaries of all the major NH polls in graphic (GOP and Dems) and printable (GOP and Dems) form.

California's revenge

Remember when the worry was that if the networks gave out too much information about early results on Election Day it would skew the results in, or altogether disenfranchise the voters of, California? This writer suggests the tables are turning -- big time -- because not only will California hold an early primary, but its rules for absentee voting will effectively give some of the state's residents the first meaningful votes for president.

So-called "permanent absentee voters" will start getting ballots in early January, meaning: "It would not be a big step for the pollster of a presidential campaign to poll a random sample of permanent absentee voters, whose names can be obtained from mail-list vendors, on how they voted and, if the results are favorable, make them public. . . . If a candidate could show he or she was leading in votes already cast, the effect on other voters could be significant."

So, Bill Gardner, does New Hampshire have to vote at least seven days before California begins mailing its ballots? Can you say the 2007 primary?

Rudy (and Bush) on terror

In this transcript of a Q&A with the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Rudy Giuliani says:

"Nobody knows what the next year ahead will bring. I think that they are going to look back on the president and say that as a new president faced with an attack that no other American president had ever been faced with--a domestic attack of a magnitude greater than Pearl Harbor. Within 10 days, he took a failing policy and turned it around. He took a policy of years and years of denial, picked it up in 10 days--and his speech on September 20, 2001 is still the best road map for what to do about terrorism. I sat there in Congress and listened to it: It was all the things that I was thinking myself, and experts were saying to me had to be done, and I believe he saved America some attacks in the interim as the result of that."

What was in that road map? Here is the president's Sept. 20, 2001, speech.

Heat index

If global warming is your issue, you'll want to check out this candidate scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters.

A toast to independence

Originally published in the July 4, 2005, Concord Monitor:

There are few formal occasions at the Great White House in the Sky, but American holidays remain treasured, especially the Fourth of July. Each year the members of the Dead Presidents Club assemble in Room 1776 to hear John Adams recite the Declaration of Independence. First, though, he tweaks his greatest friend and rival.

"Mr. Jefferson," Adams says, "we would be honored to have you read to us this year. After all, they are (ahem) mostly your words."

Jefferson reddens and begins to stand but, as always, declines. History has rewarded him with the credit for the Declaration, but time has done nothing to deepen his squeaky voice. And so Adams, the man who prevailed upon Jefferson to draft the Declaration and the only other president to have signed it, begins: "When in the course of human events . . ."

Adams pours his all into the speech, evoking the serious mood of the Continental Congress. He's also fighting off the urge to smile at his annual moment of glory. With Adams perched upon a stepstool and all the other presidents sitting down, not even George Washington can overshadow him.

Adams reaches the last line, and the others join in: "And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

With that, it's time for a toast -- although there has never been agreement on what to say. "To liberty!" is heard in some corners, "Equality!" in others.

"To independence!" Washington adds, drawing all eyes to him as he stands. He thanks Adams for his performance, lamenting the lack of technology to share it with living Americans. "There are many," Washington says, "whom it would behoove to hear your passion. When you who signed the Declaration pledged your lives on paper, you embraced a risk as real as that faced daily by our army."

"Hear, hear," says Benjamin Harrison, whose namesake and great-grandfather was one of the Declaration's signers. "And several more cheers for the British generals who, as our current president might say, 'misoverestimated' our might. Had they but pressed the issue, the future of America could have been contained to the space of a few dozen nooses."

"And not just the British army was against us." It's James Madison speaking now. "What road map were we reading? Whose lead could we follow? To what example could we point and say, 'This is how you forge a new nation'?"

There was no such example, Ronald Reagan says, "but you knew what you wanted and you knew who the enemy was, and that gave you a chance."

"Yes, a chance," Jefferson says, "but nothing more. Because no sooner had we agreed on our purpose than we started to disagree on what to do about it."

"We're still disagreeing about that," says JFK.

"Which is fine," Madison says, "as long as we continue to agree in principle. At one point we did not, and only Mr. Lincoln's wisdom and Mr. Grant's force managed to make us whole again."

"So can it endure?" Adams asks.

"It can," says Washington, "but there will always have to be people who make it happen. The second greatest mistake Americans keep making is thinking that some group of 'Fathers' told off the king and that from there, history was on our side."

"And the first?"

"The first is assuming it will continue to be."

Stealing his own headlines

With John Roberts and Samuel Alito forming new Supreme Court majorities in so many of the final decisions of the term, this could have been the week when President Bush basked in the glow of his most significant (and, with the party base, most popular) political accomplishment. Instead, he's begging for immigration votes.

UPDATE: With the bill defeated, Ramesh Ponnuru concludes: "President Bush's humane and generous instincts combined with his moralistic and arrogant ones to produce a political fiasco that could have been a policy fiasco as well."

UPDATE II: The Senate roll call: only 46 votes (including Judd Gregg, Chuck Hagel, John McCain, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama) to keep the bill alive; 53 against (including John Sununu, Sam Brownback and Jim Webb).

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